Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Passing For Normal

Abbie Normal
Norma L.

By whose standard do we measure ourselves and our alignment with other humans? I've been pondering this extensive spectrum of possibilities for years. I once planned to write a book about it: Realms of Normalcy.

I've given up. I recently saw a Tony Award winning play at a local theater called "Next to Normal."  Along with playwright, Craig Lucas, I conclude that I can aim for a position bordering the arena, but never achieve solid standing within.
photo by daughter, Mary Ann Edwards
These last months I've been alternating between Abbie and Norma. I appreciate all of you who have inquired about my obvious absence and excursion into the land of inadequacy and abnormality.

For months I have avoided my computer because it was a medium that conveyed messages of disapproval (a very strong one coming from someone quite close to me). It was surprising to me how certain events shut me up. I felt increasingly that what I believed and said wasn't important. Now those same musings have freed me to spew forth just because I do care less and less and certainly have no control over others' reactions and impressions anyway.  My silence has been deepened by serious concerns for my children and the death of two of my closest friends (a third is struggling with stage 4 metastasized melanoma). 

The realization that Mother is gone looms large in my emotional body. Thanksgiving marked the one-year anniversary of her death.
I still feel like an alien in a strange land as I struggle to speak or write cogent ideas. I miss my blogging friends and their varied reactions to life. I keep waiting for my second wind. I think at this stage of life, my second wind is death.

I've almost forgotten how the internet works and in logging back on, I see that most of my social networks have changed their formats, making them social notworks. As I have rejected and ignored electronic devices, I've mused over the elegance of delay. I've day-dreamed about circumstances where no immediate response is required or desired. I've wanted people to call me no sooner than when urgently moved to do so. The cellphonics have worn me down to a stubble of indifference. Don't text me. If you must leave a message, preface it with "this message has been mulled over and impact-considered for hours." Or better yet, write me a letter that begins with, "Dear Kass, I carried this missive for days in my breast pocket. It leaned earnestly against my heart and now I say to you that the weight of its impact has worked on me, causing me to spill out with....." (then say something loaded with caffeine).

In this self-imposed exile I've been enjoying for almost a year now, I've visited the Land of Shame and Guilt, a familiar place I go when I feel homesick. I talk to close friends about recorded loops that keep playing in my head. Most of them offer that all these concerns hinge on events that happened years ago. They tell me to let it go. It's in the past. I tell them it's not in the past. It's in my body. I'd like to be hooked into reality without being "hooked," but I'm addicted to my sick thoughts. I know you can't fix a sick mind with a sick mind, but I keep trying.

I visited the Tetons this summer and took a running, 
jumping, flying leap off a high mountain.
A perfect landing after soaring on thermals for 15 minutes with instructor, Cade Palmer
 It was a wonderful experience (among many that keep me quite happily engaged in life despite my intermittent retreats into melancholy).

Now that I'm back on the blogwagon, I want to share a few of the many physical ways I have tried to pass for normal even though it's increasingly obvious that I am not a mainstream, socially-approved individual.
Why I wear bangs

I always add material between the zipper and side pockets (creating a girdle of sorts) so my hips don't appear bigger than they are. Many higher-end slacks already have this feature.


 Big ears pinned to loops added to the middle of my ears for the express purpose of pinning big ears back.
 When I feel fancy, I attach decorations to the loops.
Most of my life I have had the unfortunate anxiety-producing combination of No Impulse Control and Caring Too Much What Other People Think. As you can imagine, this has created a perpetual cycle of regret. In trying to preserve or maintain what's left of my imagined dignity, I've confronted a society given over to a collective identification with frenzy. Maybe we all have a degree of Tourette's Syndrome with its accompanying rapping, hip-hopping bumbledom of multitasking to fulfill spurious requirements for living.

I think I'm finally ready to be myself, warts and all. The effects of age are harder and harder to camouflage and the effort it takes creates more stress and wrinkles. Life is too short for pretense and posturing. As Annette Bening said in the film, The Women (when assaulted by a department store cosmetic hawker), "This is my face. Deal with it."

I'm curious about methods any of you might have employed to fit the mainstream or attempt to go along with a socially imposed current that we are continually conditioned to care about. Please share.
Standing firm against the current

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The No Longer Silent K's First Award

I'm kind of embarrassed and pleased to announce I've received a blog award, from my friend,  Alanna, at The Chipper Writer. Thanks Alanna!

Here's how it works:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Award up to 15 blogs that are deserving (I chose 4).
4. Contact those bloggers and let them know about the award.

Seven things about me (that I may not have covered in my blog):

1. I hate rodeos. Abhor them. They are cruel and unusual.
2. I close all the shutters and dance to crazy music every morning.
3. I drool over tools. Think they are amazing. Most recent purchase: a router.
4. I wish I could belong to a Bloomsbury-like group, be one of the Russian Five (the composers, not   the hockey players) or live in an intentional, green, artistic community.
5. I love toys. When my grandchildren get a toy from me, it's usually been opened and played with.
6. I have about 1,000 CDs (Yikes, I just realized how much money that represents!). All of Eva Cassiday's, most of Nina Simone's, Yo Yo Ma's, John Lewis's (of the Modern Jazz Quartet), Jenny Oaks Baker's (a sweet Mormon girl who plays violin beautifully), the Mo Tab's (Mormon Tabernacle Choir - love their CDs, especially Peace Like A River), and the Kronos Quartet's. Every kind of music is represented in my collection.
7. I know how to drive a motorcycle (sold it years ago - decided I wanted to meet future grandchildren).

All of the blogs listed on my sidebar are deserving and obviously favorites, but I choose to bug (because they have been with me a long time):


And of course I would've picked Alanna at The Chipper Writer, but she picked me first. Thanks again to Alanna! I thought this was a fun way to share our interests and friends.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Room Of One's Own

"Her mind was like her room, in which lights advanced and retreated, came pirouetting and stepping delicately,...and then her whole being was suffused, like the room again, with a cloud of some profound knowledge..." - "The Lady in the Looking-Glass"
We're approaching the birthday of Virginia Woolf: January 25th. She wrote about having money and a room of one's own in order for a woman to write fiction. I often think that I fuss and decorate the space I want to write in more than I write. But the underlying connective thread holding my life together between the extremes of solitude and communion is the space I call home. Even if my home is a metaphor for my tendency to concentrate more on straightening and decorating than focusing on content and meaning, I rationalize that it's part of the ongoing attempt to make my actions and lifestyle congruent with my values and vision (after all, here I am writing about it).

By nature of the way society is set up, women struggle to find a way to claim their body, mind and spirit while they coordinate career, family and creative endeavors. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, in Gifts From the Sea says, "The problem is how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel. For to be a woman is to have interests and duties, ranging out in all directions from the central mother-core, like spokes from the hub of a wheel." Lindbergh's words suggest that women need to give themselves the gift of a place where those elements that create the "balance beam" of life can be realized.
Woolf was able to shut herself off from the outside world in a shed in the garden. It gave her the privacy to think clearly, explore and expand new ideas. In her essay, Woolf comments that symbolically a room of one's own means thinking for oneself.

If you're so inclined, talk about (and/or show on your blog) how your "room" shapes and expresses your consciousness.

This is where I do most of my writing. It's my kitchen counter. Since I knocked down the walls separating my dining room, kitchen and living room, this is the most central area in my home. I think it represents good things to eat, being nourished and sitting up high to overlook my handiwork.

This is my study where I do some of my writing, but since I bought a laptop, I don't use it as much. It represents my best-laid plans which pretty much just lie there catching dust.

I do a lot of writing at the little table where Mom used to eat.

This is where my late-night ramblings get jotted down; where I've written most of my poetry, working from pages of my organizer and scraps of envelopes.


This is how it will look if my home is ever turned into a museum like Virginia Woolf's House.

What kind of space do you work in?
What is your favorite Virginia Woolf quote?

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Her left foot turns out slightly
the forward jut of her jaw speaks
in glowing amber

she says this word at ten
and turns onto that street at twelve

there are always 
secret combinations
of numbers
and colors 

He recognizes this and holds
the prongs of each detail
inches away from the alternating
current of public opinion

it’s part of the plot
to get him
so he invents story after story

and always there are secret combinations
a certain number of syllables
with the necessity of emphasizing 
the right one

so he must be vague
precision might unravel the helix
where adenine follows cytosine 
in the seventh strand

he mustn’t unlock doors
through which he can
never pass

but in the end
all sequences seem out of order
so he aligns with
the emission 
of dying photons

kneels by the bedside
he abandoned


by the regular arrangement 
of atoms.

(inspired by Kirks's post)